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A new model built in part by a University of Alberta geophysicist contradicts a long-held idea about how the southern and central central Rocky Mountains were formed.
Claire Currie was part of a team that developed a model of the flat-slab subduction process to illustrate the unique Laramide orogeny, a series of mountain-building events that occurred between 50 million and 80 million years ago.
Team - Plates - Way - Inland - Coast
The team found that tectonic plates shoved their way inland from the coast, and that mountain building was caused by the increase in stresses at the edge of the continent. Previously, scientists had thought the flattening was marked by an eastward migration of volcanic activity, and that this caused deformation to occur in the continental interior by stresses on the bottom of the continent.
"Our models show that the flattening caused the lowermost part of the continent to be 'bulldozed' and pushed inland," said Currie. "This resulted in the termination of volcanism above the subduction zone and triggered the mountain-building event by increasing the stresses at the continental edge."
Model - Information - Sources - Records - Activity
The model used robust information from various sources, including records of volcanic activity in the...
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